Teshuvah 5780/2020

The Hebrew month of Elul initiates a 40 day period called Teshuvah. This is the Hebrew word for repent.

The point of the season is to prepare for the Jewish New Year/Rosh Hashanah/Yom Teruah and the Day of Atonement/Yom Kippur. It is a time to turn toward God. People are called to turn away from their sin, repent, and change course. Teshuvah is a time of inward reflection and sincere self-assessment. The goal is a change in lifestyle away from sin and turn to obedience in God’s word. The 40 day period starts on Elul 1 and ends on Tishri 10, Yom Kippur/Day of Atonement.

On a Gregorian calendar in the year 2020, Teshuvah will possibly initiate at sunset on Friday, August 21 if the sighting of the new moon is confirmed by two witnesses. In the purest sense, determining Elul 1 and the start of a month is not a mathematical function. The issue is a legal matter of truthful verification as far as God is concerned.

Deuteronomy 19:15 A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.

It is Jewish custom to blow a shofar (ram’s horn) one time every day during the season of Teshuvah. The trumpet is blown every day except Shabbat or the Sabbath (Saturday for us in western culture) and the last day of the month of Elul. The trumpet is blown after the morning service. The shofar is blown frequently…

The blowing of the shofar started with Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai. The blowing of the shofar is associated with God descending to Mount Sinai and the gathering of nation Israel. This is where Moses is called to ascend the mountain to meet God (Exodus 19:13-19). This is when and where Israel received the law.

The blowing of a shofar signaled many things in Biblical times. The shofar blast was a call to war and the prospect of danger. 

Joel 2:1 Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming; surely it is near…

The shofar was a way to call soldiers. The trumpet preceded the Ark of the Covenant. 

2 Samuel 6:15 So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouting and the sound of the trumpet.

The trumpet blast signified the beginning of the month (Numbers 10:10). Psalm 81:3-4 Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day. For it is a statute for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob. Some form of a trumpet blast(s) is used at Rosh Hashanah/Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur/Day of Atonement.

A trumpet blast also signals the beginning of Jubilee (Leviticus 25).

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One of the customs of Elul is to visit a cemetery. This is quite interesting in light of the Jewish belief that the resurrection of the dead will occur during the period of Teshuvah. Specifically, the resurrection of the dead is to occur on the new moon holiday of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah/Yom Teruah. Christians refer to Rosh Hashanah as the Feast of Trumpets.

Orthodox Jews do not believe in Jesus Christ let alone the New Testament. Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians would confirm their tradition. 

1 Corinthians 15:52b at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

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